Chapter 33 says, Being content is wealth. When you think about it, it is easy to see how happiness is wealth. Using Correlations (p.565), let’s consider how love corresponds to wealth and happiness. Love has two sides; the “false” or yang side is a grasping, expecting, needy experience. The “true” or yin side is a giving, empathetic, contented experience. Similarly, true wealth and true happiness correlate with this true love — giving, empathetic, contented. (photo: walden pond)
Thoreau put it well
Thoreau said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Here, just replace “A man is rich…” with “A man is happy or content…”. This probably feels true, at least until it gets personal. At that instant, rising emotions—our fears and needs—blind us.
Buddha Second Noble Truth highlights this conflict … “The desire to live for the enjoyment of self entangles us in a net of sorrow, pleasures are the bait, the result is pain”. We want to be independent, yet we also want to be part of a group. We need our space, yet we need togetherness. From what I see, our push – pull struggles in life mostly center on this conflict. We want it both ways. Yet, Mother Nature’s monogamous reality only allows us to live her way, more or less.
I have no doubt this wanting to have it both ways is an instinct common to all life. It keeps living things on their toes. Being innate, this isn’t anything we can extinguish in ourselves. However, some relief is possible when we realize how biology is pulling our strings behind the scenes.
All We Need is a Little CRT
Research cited in a Science News article, The Anorexic Brain, states that, “People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are considered to be cognitively inflexible with their perspectives of food”. (Google [The anorexic brain: Neuroimaging improves understanding of eating disorder].) Okay, but don’t we all suffer from the disorder they are calling cognitively inflexible? Indeed, chapter 71 describes this disorder as Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. The article concludes with, “New work hints that cognitive remediation therapy, or CRT, which uses cognitive exercises to change anorexics’ behaviors, has potential”.
I went straight to Wikipedia to check this out. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT), also called cognitive enhancement therapy (CET), is a cognitive rehabilitation therapy designed to improve neurocognitive abilities such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, planning, and executive functioning which leads to improved social functioning (1).
It is fascinating how often the ‘old’ is simply given a make over and presented as ‘new’. In this case, CRT seems to be reintroducing Buddha’s idea of Right Comprehension (See the first fold of Buddha’s Eight Fold Path, p.604) On the plus side, science provides much needed proof, and by leaving religion completely out of the discussion, avoids sectarian squabbling over dogma.
On the other hand, religious conversion has proven to be far-and-away the most effective means of rescuing troubled souls of all sorts. The problem here is that bureaucracies can’t achieve such success. I think it is fair to say, it comes about in mysterious ways. The religiously neutral characteristics of CRT may well help far more people, albeit not to the same depth perhaps. Beginning with a secular version and only revealing the spiritual link later on could make CRT more effective for some, yet not ruin it for others.
(1) Wikipedia went on to discuss metacognitive awareness, which certainly rings true and corresponds to the core aim of CenterTao. This being to help us all develop metacognition, or Right Comprehension as Buddha might say.
CRT is an interactive treatment which combines practical exercises with discussions about their relevance to the patient’s everyday life. It addresses the process rather than the content of thinking, thus helping patients to develop a metacognitive awareness of their own thinking style. The treatment is hypothesized to work by strengthening and refining neural circuits, and by learning and transferring new cognitive strategies to appropriate situations. The aim is to identify and target the cognitive impairments specific to each patient, and to motivate the patient to engage in meta-cognitive processes i.e. to consider their cognitive/thinking styles and to explore alternative strategies, which in turn might lead to behavioral changes. By becoming aware of problematic cognitive styles, the patient can reflect on how these affect everyday life and learn to develop new strategies.
Theresa Domenic says
Once a day I’ve been reading from one of your observations or commentaries on a Tao chapter and today I rested on this one about wealth of happiness. From my own personal state, I can say that it again has been a salve to my conflicted mind. I’ve been toiling with the notion of how can I change things out there to soothe my worries. Your essay helped guide me back home to my own internal source. Once again, My expectations of something out there was getting me in a twist. Today anyways I’ve been able to calm down and find a degree of faith in my own step-by-step ability to find a more settled State of mind.
Of course your observation was more in debt and I especially appreciated your mention of cognitive therapy and religious instructions as aides to finding this simpler state of human functioning. Increasingly, I place less and less serious value on my minds’ conclusions and find more wonder and ease with its questions.
Managing our human paradoxical predicament is challenging. I recall a similiar exploration of this (and one related to cognitive therapy), in an article I read on Dialectical behavior therapy from an on line magazine called Brain Pickings. A passage follows below:
“DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) combines standard cognitive behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. DBT is the first therapy that has been experimentally demonstrated to be generally effective in treating BPD. The first randomized clinical trial of DBT showed reduced rates of suicidal gestures, psychiatric hospitalizations, and treatment drop-outs when compared to treatment as usual. A meta-analysis found that DBT reached moderate effects in individuals with borderline personality disorder.”